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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Seattle Times article on re-opened schools

Today's Seattle Times has a story about the re-opening of Rainier View and Viewlands. Director Maier is quoted.

District-wide enrollment fell from 2000 to 2007. It has been rising since then. Closures in 2006, after falling enrollment, might have made sense, but how does Mr. Maier justify the school closures that HE voted for since the enrollment has been rising?

19 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maier calls the rising enrollment issues "short-term whiplash", forgetting the pain those communities felt when their schools closed and the money spent reopening. It's almost like it didn't happen.

Good he can be so blase about it all.

I love the enthusiasm that the neighborhoods around Viewlands and Rainier View are showing. (And Queen Anne Elementary had all its 4th graders do well on the HPSE.)

someone said...

Interesting that there's very little discussion of how much it cost to reopen these - I see the $10 million in refurbishing mentioned for Viewlands, though very off-handedly - I assume because it had to be brought up to code?

Mr. Maier sure is blaise about spending other people's money for a guy trying to get re-elected....

Melissa Westbrook said...

In BTA III, there was $50M to fix up the five reopening schools. That's just a capital cost (not administrative) and it doesn't even cover everything that could be done at the buildings.

And, if the district had protected Viewlands better, we wouldn't be paying the cost to replace all the copper wiring that was stripped out by thieves.

someone said...

$50 MILLION!!!!!!!!!!! wow - that seems...huh...imprudent is the nicest word I can think of right now. So seriously, they closed them saving $XX and now will have to spend $50 million to get them back operational, if not more.

And this was a cost saving idea.

Hmmmm....what the bleep is wrong with that picture. Is it that the Board starts seeing these large figures so often that it stops meaning anything to them, in the way it would to ordinary citizens? Because I have served on city boards before, and there's no way I wouldn't ask the question, BEFORE I voted to approve closures - "what if we have to reverse this decision, what's the estimate on those costs?"

taking deep breath and counting to ten because that just...boggles

suep. said...

Also noticeably absent from the 'article' (it reads more like an SPS press release) is the fact that before Maier and co. opted to reopen schools in Oct. 2009, they had voted to close schools only months earlier in Jan. 2009.

JAN. 2009
Board passes the superintendent's closure plan

OCT. 2009
Seattle Public Schools proposed new boundary lines for all its schools Tuesday, marking a return to a neighborhoods-based assignment system that would guarantee students a place at a school close to home. As part of the new plan, the district also wants to reopen five closed schools.

That whiplash occurred in the space of one calendar year. Costly and idiotic and yes, devastating to the communities that were built around those schools.

Whatever money was allegedly saved by the closures of 2009 was most likely eaten up by the costs of reopening schools, some of them in great need of repair.

Btw, once again, the Seattle Times supported bad SPS decisions and cheered on these costly and short-sighted closures: Seattle Public Schools must take the tough vote and close schools

Meanwhile, over 1,700 people district-wide opposed the closures and signed this petition: petition to
SAVE SEATTLE SCHOOLS - We Deserve a Better Plan


Poor planning, poor management, and another case where SPS leadership ignored the facts presented to it by the community which told SPS that closures would be costly and these buildings were needed because enrollment was going up. We were right.

Time for new leadership for Seattle Public Schools. Vote: McLaren, Peaslee, Buetow & Martin.

Anonymous said...

The real thing that caused the whiplash was the new student assignment plan. This allows students into their local schools. When people, especially ones with economic means, are allowed a spot in their neighborhood schools: they take that option, even if those schools are bursting at the seams. And, schools in wealthy neighborhoods tend to be the so-believed, "good ones". Of course people are going to want in, and forgo private options if they know they will get a spot. It would have been much wiser to close schools after the NSAP was put into action. And then to close schools (or not).

Throw the bums out? I'm not so sure the new candidates are any better.

-reader

Anonymous said...

"And Queen Anne Elementary had all its 4th graders do well on the HPSE"

Melissa - where did you get this info? Can you provide a link?

thank you!

parent at Queen Anne

Anonymous said...

From what I've heard from people living near Viewlands is that the cost driver for re-opening the school was not bringing it up to code but was fixing the damage caused by the squatters living in the closed building - all copper pipes and wiring stolen, holes smashed in the walls to connect classrooms together, etc. I can't verify the truth of this, but it makes a lot of sense.

Viewlands neighbor

Anonymous said...

That may have contributed to the high cost of re-opening Viewlands, however Seattle DPD requires that buildings be brought to new, more stringent, building codes before reopening. A costly endeavor.

-Another "Duh" moment, brought to you by SPS admin and Facilities.

Anonymous said...

Wow are human memories short. Let's not forget the Broad Academy's talking points spewed forth by MGJ about the cost of "heating, lighting, and operating" all that empty space. Corporate-minded "cost-cutting" was the bottom line, in order to re-deploy those dollars "into the classrooms."

Don't you all recall that? Don't you recall being talked down to like a kindergartener by MGJ and Co. who were trying to save money to help kids? Now, of course, MGJ may never have heard of a "thermostat, valve, or light-switch," all which do a great job of saving energy and money, according to our local, state and federal governments, among others. But we should at least have expected our esteemed Board Members to have queried her on the subject.

So, why didn't they? Answer: Corporate Think-Tank inspired Education Reforms that prefer jamming as many kids as possible into one building and classroom (recall: "The research shows class size doesn't matter. The single most important factor is the quality of the teacher in the classroom." - MGJ), in order to more efficiently deliver curriculum. And "serving customers," and "students first" and "merit pay" and yada-yada-yada.

The Board voted as robots because they were put in place to act as robots. And, like robots, they acted without brains, and look where it got us.

Who, seriously, would consider re-hiring the gang-of-four, based on their record (besides the Times, of course)?

Just askin? WSDWG

mirmac1 said...

Enfield in the WS blog

Enfield on PR kick

Anonymous said...

Enfield will also be at Lincoln on the first day of school to meet with Lowell@Lincoln families. She will be riding the school bus from Lowell to Lincoln in the morning (along with media?).

L@L parent

mirmac1 said...

Wow, Lesley Rogers is working overtime! Too bad no real progress is being made.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent at Queen Anne, it was in the district's PR announcement of scores:

"At three Seattle schools all of the students in at least one grade met or exceeded standard on the statewide tests in reading, writing, or math.

At Queen Anne Elementary School, a school that opened just last year, every student in grade
4 met or exceeded standard in writing. Principal David Elliott attributes the school’s excellent
results to “exceptional, committed teachers, particularly in reading and writing.”

At Montlake Elementary School, every student in grade 3 met or exceeded standard in reading.
Students throughout the school also improved their performance in math.

At McGilvra Elementary School, every student in grade 4 met or exceeded standard in writing,
up from 78.6 percent in 2009-2010."

Anonymous said...

Melissa
Thank you - I was assuming the full scores for each school were already posted somewhere. Guess not.

parent at Queen Anne

Anonymous said...

How many kids were in grade 4 at QA elementary last year? More than 10?

"Truth in Numbers"

Maureen said...

Truth, it looks like there were 19 kids in QAE's 4th grade. You can see the results here.

suep. said...

Even more spin from SPS & Seattle Times:

Seattle schools expect a big first-day crowd

(bold emphasis mine)

Interim schools chief Susan Enfield says it's a good sign that a handful of Seattle Public Schools are going to be bursting at the seams on the first day of school Wednesday — a sign that, after a disastrous year, parents are starting to have more confidence in the district.

A 'good sign'?

Overstuffed schools and packed classrooms?

This is an attempt to spin what is in fact an utter failure by SPS 'leadership' at capacity management, enrollment and demographic projections, poor planning, wrongheaded and costly school closures.

This smacks of preemptive spin control of what may be a repeat of last year's overcrowding debacle at Garfield and possibly district-wide, tomorrow.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Queen Anne, if you go to OSPI, the numbers should be there.